Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in animal products like eggs, dairy products, and meat. You might be watching your cholesterol intake if you have a history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or other health concerns.
Flour doesn’t contain cholesterol because it’s made from plant-based sources like grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. (The rare exception includes things like cricket flour, which is made from finely-ground crickets.)
That said, different types of flour can impact your cholesterol levels in less direct ways, which we’ll soon explain!
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance your body needs to build new tissue and synthesize hormones, among other functions. Your liver produces cholesterol, but you can also get cholesterol from certain foods you eat.
When you get your blood cholesterol levels checked, you’ll find out what your total cholesterol is, as well as how much of the cholesterol is “good” cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).
Having high levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol can increase your risk for health issues like heart disease, which is why it’s important to keep tabs on your cholesterol levels. It’s also good to be aware of which foods have high cholesterol if you already have high cholesterol, or if you have a history of heart disease.
Which foods are high in cholesterol?
The only foods that contain cholesterol are animal products. That’s right – that means that plant-based foods don’t contain any cholesterol!
Some of the richest food sources of cholesterol are:
- Organ meats (liver, kidney, tripe, etc.)
- Shellfish (crab, lobster, prawns, etc.)
- High-fat meats and processed meats
- Full-fat dairy products
Does flour have cholesterol?
Since the vast majority of flour is made from plant foods like grains, nuts, and seeds, flour doesn’t contain cholesterol. There is one main exception, and that’s cricket flour (powder), which is made from ground-up crickets. This type of “flour” isn’t meant to be used as a standalone flour, but can add nutrients to recipes using more typical types of flour.
In case you’re curious, a ¼ cup of cricket powder contains 110 milligrams of cholesterol, which is less than the amount in one large egg (around 190 milligrams).
Can flour impact your cholesterol levels?
Since the vast majority of flour doesn’t contain cholesterol, you might be wondering if flour can impact your cholesterol in other ways. And you’d be right to wonder!
According to scientific research, replacing refined grains with whole grains (including flour) can promote healthier cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar, and lower markers of inflammation. All of these factors (cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and inflammation) play large roles in your heart and overall health!
The likely difference between refined and whole grain consumption in terms of cholesterol is the dietary fiber content, which plays a role in cholesterol levels. Whole grains = higher in dietary fiber while refined grains = lower in fiber.
So what exactly are whole grains and refined grains, you might be asking?
Whole grains vs. refined grains
Whole grains refer to grains that haven’t been stripped of any of their parts. When it comes to wheat (the most common grain flour is made from), whole grains contain all three layers of the wheat kernel – the bran, endosperm, and germ.
Refined wheat (such as all-purpose flour) is usually stripped of the bran and the germ, resulting in a lower-fiber and lower-protein grain than its whole-grain counterpart.
Other non-wheat flours can also be whole grain, such as amaranth flour, oat flour, and buckwheat, to name a few!
10 flours that might help lower cholesterol
In general, whole grain and otherwise high-fiber flours (some high-fiber flours can’t be considered grains because they are from legumes, seeds, etc.) are more likely to be beneficial for cholesterol levels.
That doesn’t mean that other lower-fiber flours aren’t good for your heart health – this is just a place to start!
Here’s a list of ten high-fiber flours to consider to support healthy cholesterol levels:
- Hemp flour – 11 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Okara flour – 10 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Coconut flour – 10 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Lupin flour – 9 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Buckwheat flour – 9 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Fava bean flour – 8 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Flaxseed flour – 6 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Sesame flour – 5 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Whole wheat flour – 5 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Chickpea flour – 5 grams fiber per ¼ cup
10 flours that might not lower cholesterol levels
- There are many factors that impact your cholesterol levels besides fiber. For the sake of this article, we’re only focusing on fiber in terms of its potential ability to lower cholesterol.
- Other factors that impact your cholesterol levels include things like your activity level, genetics, and diet, including the types of fat you eat, the amount of sugar you consume, etc.
- There is quite a bit of debate in the health and nutrition world about which type of diet is best for your heart health, especially when it comes to the type of fat you eat. When in doubt, consult a trusted healthcare provider or registered dietitian to discuss your lifestyle and personalize a healthy eating plan based on your personal health history.
- White rice flour – 0 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Cashew flour – 0 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Vital wheat gluten flour – 0 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Tapioca flour (starch) – 0 grams fiber per ¼ cup
- Tipo 00 flour – <1 gram fiber per ¼ cup
- Banana flour – <1 gram fiber per ¼ cup
- All-purpose flour – 1 gram fiber per ¼ cup
- Cake flour – 1 gram fiber per ¼ cup
- Bread flour – 1 gram fiber per ¼ cup
- Semolina flour – 1 gram fiber per ¼ cup
Whole grain and high-fiber flours are the better for people worried about high cholesterol. Some examples of higher-fiber flours include hemp flour, coconut flour, and whole wheat flour.
White flour is a type of enriched grain and is low in fiber. Diets high in refined grains and low in fiber may contribute to high LDL cholesterol levels. Instead, try to choose whole grain flours to help combat high LDL cholesterol.